The Islands of Chaldea
Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones
2014 – KidLit – Fantasy
The Story: Aileen has just horribly failed her initiation to become a magicworker, one of the last Wise Women of the Chaldea Islands. But when the king recruits her, along with a few others, to make a risky journey and fulfill the prophecy to bring down the mysterious barrier that separates Skarr from Logra, she realizes that she just might have what it takes to grow her ability and save the day.
The Opening Line: Porridge is my Aunt Beck’s answer to everything.
What I Loved: Diana Wynne Jones has a knack for bringing a childlike awe and wonderment to everything she writes. Chaldea is no different. This book is wonderful. The sense of magic I get as a reader is very strong throughout. There is questing – a journey by land, sea, and air that takes the group across the islands of Chaldea. There are wonderful curses and colorful characters. And Plug-Ugly and Green Greet are some of the best, most imaginative creatures I’ve read about in any fantasy novel.
What I Didn’t Love: This was a fast read, but I still found myself stopping a lot to browse the Internet, talk to friends, find something to eat, stare into space. It didn’t keep me reading the way some of my favorites do. And though there were some great hooks, I just wasn’t invested. With a few exceptions, I was able to fairly easily predict the end.
Final Thoughts: What a tragedy that Jones died before completing this novel! Although her sister, Ursula Jones, finished it in her stead, I wonder how the ending might have differed if Diana had penned it. I couldn’t tell where Diana left off and Ursula picked up, so that says something, I suppose. I could have seen this as a successful series, but that doesn’t seem likely now. Regardless, this was a great fantasy for readers young and old alike. It’s worth a read, particularly if you’re a fan of her other work!